The Mariners drafted Dustin Ackley with the 2nd pick in the 2009 MLB draft as an outfielder/first baseman. But come spring training 2010, the Mariners decided to move Ackley to second base. The prospect experts were surprised with the move, but fantasy owners were licking their chops with the prospect of drafting a very good hitting second base prospect in their 2010 drafts.
Prospect experts expected the Mariners to start Ackley in the low minors, High-A seemed acceptable, but when the Mariners started him off in AA, again they were shocked with the move. First, they were changing his position, then they were challenging him by starting him off at AA West Tennessee. Why?
Ackley's major league career did not start off as one would expect. He started his career hitting .147 in April and some experts were questioning if he would be a bust. He had a solid 14-13 K/BB rate, so that was promising.
Some felt starting him at AA was aggressive, especially when he was changing positions. Here is what Ackley said recently in an interview at MILB.com:
That shift to second, Ackley admitted, played a role in his slow start with the Diamond Jaxx. Ackley was hitting just .203 with one homer and 12 RBIs through May 26.
"Yeah, it was an adjustment," he said. "The new position, the new surroundings, I think all of it played a factor. It took me a while to get some confidence back. Once second base started going better everything else did too."
He started hitting better in May, hitting .303 with with an exceptional 13-22 K/BB rate. In June, he hit .294 with a 11-16 K/BB rate. Then on July 14th, the Mariners thought enough of Ackley's adjustment to second base, that they promoted him to AAA Tacoma. He finished AA hitting .263-.389-.384 with 2 HRs, 28 RBIs and 8 SBs.
Since his promotion to AAA Tacoma, Ackley has hit .290-.356-.452 with 3 HRs, 15 RBIs and just one SB in 155 at bats. He has maintained a solid eye at the plate with his 24-15 K/BB rate. In the field, he has made 16 errors in 245 chances, not good, but with more experience, he should improve his fielding percentage at second base.
It appears Ackley could get a September call-up with the Mariners, and he is a must add in keeper leagues, but I am not sure if he will be anything more than a solid BA/OBP guy who can steal a few bases. He doesn't appear to have much power, thus the reason for moving him from first base/outfield to second base.